Nolan Miller first became interested in fashion while watching his idols act in Saturday matinees as a boy in Texas. Miller's fascination with fash ion led him to Los Angeles, California, to attend the Choinard Art Institute. While in school, Miller worked in a Beverly Hills flower shop waiting to be "discovered." Fortunately for Miller, the flower shop he worked in was patronized by television producer Aaron Spelling.
Miller is most noted for the fashions he created for Spelling's 1980s television dramas. He created the wardrobes, and the images, for many of Spelling's shows including Dynasty, Fantasy Island, Love Boat, and Hotel. Through Miller's designs, the characters were transformed to wealthy, glamorous, powerful, business tycoons. Viewers tuned in each week not only to watch the dramas unfold, but also to see what everyone was wearing. Of all his productions though, Miller is probably most remembered for the fashions he created for Joan Collins and Linda Evans on Dynasty. The clothes these women wore were glamorous, sophisticated, and magnificently accessorized. When he incorporated big shoulder pads into the designs, the fashion community took notice. Soon, all fashions from haute couture to mass-merchandised ready-to-wear apparel displayed the broad-shouldered silhouette which came to dominate the 1980s.
As the 1980s drew to a close, the economy took a downturn and the glamor ended. Television shows portraying high-powered families leading lavish lifestyles were no longer popular. Everything became much simpler, including fashion, and television programming reflected that change. When Spelling's television "dynasty" collapsed, Miller channeled his design talents into new outlets. In 1987 he began designing a line of designer price-point special-occasion suits for the Leslie Fay Company. After Leslie Fay went bankrupt in 1995, Miller decided to purchase a factory and manufacture his own line. However, Miller discovered manufacturing and marketing one's own line is exhausting and expensive, so he closed the business after only one and a half years. During the late 1990s, Miller developed a costume jewelry line which is sold on the QVC home shopping network, and he signed a licensing agreement with Morgan Miller for a line of suits.
Miller's passion for fashion design came from the glamor of Hollywood. Miller had the opportunity to design wardrobes for many of his boyhood idols including Barbara Stanwyck, Lana Turner, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, and Jane Wyman. At the height of Nolan Miller's career, he was the highest paid costume designer in Hollywood, simultaneously designing wardrobes for six television productions. Although Miller continues his custom-made design business in Los Angeles, he has no plans to return to fashion design for television or film. "Actresses today are more likely to wear casual clothing than couture-style gowns . . . There's no real excitement in dressing somebody who wears blue jeans and a sweatshirt throughout the movie" (Taub).
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